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Turning hills into mountains? Current commitments under the GATS and prospects for change

Over the past months, it has become increasingly clear that the services negotiations under the Doha Development Agenda will not produce significant improvements on current commitments unless major new impetus is provided. In an introductory section, this paper discusses various impediments, from the perspective of participating governments, that may explain the lack of negotiating momentum to date. It then provides an overview of existing commitments under the GATS (by sector, mode of supply, and level of development) and of the initial offers that had been tabled by early 2005. Despite the substantial benefits that may be associated with the liberalization of services trade, the GATS has obviously not yet lived up to ambitious expectations. For example, on average across all WTO Members, only one-third of all services sectors have been included in current schedules of commitments; and many entries have been combined with significant limitations on market access and national treatment or with the complete exclusion of particular types of transactions (modes of supply) from coverage. While the ongoing services negotiations provide an opportunity to complement the rule-making efforts of the Uruguay Round with genuine market opening, many governments apparently have found it difficult, despite generally more restrictive access regimes and, thus, potentially higher gains from liberalization than in merchandise trade, to undertake or envisage economically significant bindings across a broad range of services. Five years after the inception of the services round, current negotiating arrangements, based mainly on (bilateral) exchanges of requests and offers, may need to be complemented by common points of reference to provide greater focus and guidance.

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Rudolf Adlung and Martin Roy — OMC

Fecha de redacción:  23 de marzo de 2005

Palabras clave   

WTO, trade in services, trade negotiations, liberalization

Código JEL 

D78, F10, F13, F2

Declinación de responsabilidad volver al principio

Este es un documento de trabajo y se refiere, por consiguiente, a un estudio en curso. Refleja las opiniones personales de funcionarios o especialistas invitados y es el resultado de trabajos de investigación profesionales. No pretende reflejar la posición o las opiniones de la OMC o de sus Miembros ni la posición oficial de ningún funcionario. Los errores que puedan existir son responsabilidad de los autores. Pueden obtenerse ejemplares de este documento de trabajo en la Secretaría de la División, en la dirección siguiente: División de Desarrollo y Estudios Económicos, Organización Mundial del Comercio, rue de Lausanne 154, CH-1211 Ginebra 21, Suiza. Sírvanse indicar en su solicitud el título y el número del documento.

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